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Traditional Irish Plum Pudding on a white plate

 

I know it’s late…but it’s not too late…to make your plum pudding for Christmas. This traditional Irish dessert is rich in spices and gloriously packed with delicious fruit.

A few weeks back I made homemade Mixed Candied Peel for this very recipe and it is incredibly more-ish…if you have the time and the inclination, I highly suggest you make you’re own too as it really is magic.

Of course, as one would expect, there are some superstitions {or call them traditions, if you will} that go hand in hand with making Irish plum pudding. They include:

* You make your Christmas plum pudding the Sunday before the first Sunday of Advent, also known in the north of Ireland and the U.K. as Stir-up Sunday.

* It must be made with 13 ingredients to represent Christ and His disciples.

* Every member of the family should take a turn stirring the pudding with a wooden spoon from east to west in honor of the three kings.

* If you make a wish as you stir your pudding, it will come true by Christmas morning.

* When serving, present the pudding with a sprig of holly on top as a reminder of Christ’s crown of thorns…or…add the holly for good luck…you decide the meaning.

* And set your pudding alight with a wee bit of brandy, to represent Christ’s passion.

Personally, I make plum pudding at Christmas for one reason…it’s my husband’s favourite dessert for the holiday and I want to make him happy. Though this might sound old fashioned and sappy, I don’t mind. Christmas is a time for giving and this is one of my gifts to my husband.

If you’ve never made plum pudding, fear not! This recipe is easy to make. The hardest part is being home for six hours while it steams. The recipe I use has been handed down from my mother-in-law, to my sister-in-law, to me…and now to you. It originally came from one of those little Stork Margarine leaflets written by Paula Daly back in the late 1970s. One last tip, however, if you’re making a pudding to give as a gift, a pot of brandy butter makes it all the nicer. Enjoy!

Irish Plum Pudding

Makes 2 Puddings

Ingredients
8oz/225g Stork margarine {or whatever margarine you can buy}, melted
8oz/225g dark brown sugar
7oz/200g plain flour {or self raising}, sieved
12oz/350g currants
8oz/225g raisins
6oz/175g sultanas
2oz/50g mixed cut peel
1oz/25g chopped almonds
1oz/25g glace cherries
6oz/175g fresh breadcrumbs
grated rind of 1 lemon
grated rind and juice of 1 orange
1 rounded teaspoon nutmeg
1 rounded teaspoon mixed spice {or pumpkin spice}
2 large eggs
3-4 tablespoons beer/milk
2 tablespoons of whiskey or rum

Directions
1. Mix all of the other ingredients together in a large bowl {don’t forget to melt the margarine first}.

2. Cover with a round of greaseproof paper that has been greased with margarine and leave overnight. {The greased side goes against the mixture in the bowl.}

3. The next day, grease a 2.5-3 litre pudding bowl with margarine.

4. Stir the pudding mixture again, very well, and pour into the prepared pudding bowl. Fill to about 1-inch of the top of the bowl. Smooth out the top.

5. Cover with greaseproof paper, which has been pleated in the centre and greased with margarine, and tie it down tightly under the rim with cotton twine.

6. Cover a second time, with a piece of aluminium, and tie it tightly under the rim with cotton twine. Make a twine handle so you can remove the bowl easily after the pudding has been steamed.

7. Place the bowl in a saucepan* and add enough water such that it comes halfway up the side of the bowl. Cover the saucepan with a lid and steam for 6 hours. Be sure to check every hour and top up with boiled water, if necessary.

8. After 6 hours, turn the heat off. Remove the pudding from the saucepan and allow to cool.

9. Re-cover with fresh greaseproof paper, be sure to put another pleat through the middle of the paper, and tie with more cotton twine as before. Store in a cool, dry, place until Christmas Day.

10. On Christmas Day, steam the pudding again for another 2 hours.

11. After two hours, turn the plum pudding out onto a warm plate, pour over some Irish whiskey or brandy and, very carefully, ignite with a match. Serve with brandy butter or cream.

Additional Notes, Related Articles & Credits:

* The way I steam a plum pudding is I use a saucepan that has a steam basket insert. I place the insert into the saucepan, put the covered bowl into the steam basket, and cover with a tight fitting lid. Then, when I have to check the water in the saucepan, I only have to lift the steam basket up to take a look.

** If you’re looking for an Irish music playlist for Christmas, checkout this one over at Spotify.

*** The meaning of holly and ivy at Christmas in an Irish home is explained well in this article from The Irish News.

 

 

Homemade cranberry sauce in a white bowl with a vintage spoon surrounded by Christmas decor

I still remember, with some embarrassment, the first time I made homemade cranberry sauce. I was not yet engaged but having Christmas dinner, all the same, with my now husband’s parents and extended family. After Christmas morning mass, everyone descended on the home of my future in-laws, Dan and Mary Rose, for breakfast, present opening, and, much later in the day, supper. While the men watched the news and sport on T.V., the women retired to the kitchen to make the Christmas dinner {with much laughter and chat}.

Being a guest and wanting to make a good impression, I asked if there was anything I could do to help. Mary Rose replied, “you can make the cranberry sauce”.  In my innocence, I thought that’ll be an easy job. ThenI asked for a can opener. “Why would you need a can opener?”, she asked. “You know”, I said, “to make the cranberry sauce.”

For a moment the room went silent and I could feel my cheeks turn a funny shade of pink. Growing up, the only cranberry sauce I had ever eaten came from a tin can. It slid out nicely, if you opened the can at both ends. To serve, you sliced it neatly on the plate.

My future mother-in-law cocked her head and looked at me for a moment. Then, without missing a beat, she took a bag of Ocean Spray cranberries off the counter, a bag I had not seen, and handed them to me. In the nicest of ways she said, “we make them this way in Ireland”.

And with that, my future mother-in-law and my future sisters-in-law handed me a pot, a big spoon, the sugar, a weigh scale, and everything else I needed to turn American cranberries into an Irish side dish. Nary a word was said about my misstep. Those warm women took me into their hearts and homes that day. I am forever thankful for their love and gentle guidance through the years and for teaching me to make {from scratch!} this very delicious cranberry sauce. Enjoy!

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Makes about 2 cups

Ingredients

1 cup water

1 cup sugar

340g/12oz fresh cranberries

Directions

1. In a medium saucepan, bring the water and sugar to a boil. Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved.

2. Add the cranberries and bring everything back to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally. You can use the back of a spoon to pop the cranberries if you prefer your cranberry sauce smooth.

3. Remove from the heat and pour the sauce into a bowl, cover and allow to cool completely before putting into the refrigerator.

Additional Notes, Related Articles & Credits:

* For additional flavour, add a cinnamon stick or slices of fresh ginger to the water and simmer with the cranberries. Remove before serving.

** If you like your cranberry sauce boozy, stir in 1 tablespoon of rum, brandy, or whiskey to the cranberry sauce right after taking it off the hob {stove}.

*** For a citrusy zing, Add the peel of an orange to the water and simmer with the cranberries. Remove the peel before serving.

**** The American cranberry sauce I remember from my childhood from the good folks over at kitchn.com.

Serene

It took me a long time, a very long time, to fall in love with Ireland. I was young and foolish, when we first arrived, and I longed for the familiarity of the country I grew up in, the people I knew well, and a life faster-paced. But, slowly, oh so slowly, this serene country grew on me…like moss taking over a field.

Rolling green Irish countryside with ancient trees and cows grazing in the distance

Today I appreciate what I once did not. I love how at every turn something arresting catches my eye…like this field near our home. Notice how the land rolls softly at crooked angles, emerald green. Imagine cow bellows being carried softly on the breeze, and leaves rustling loosely in the wind. See the old trees huddled together, while one brave one stands tall and stately on its own. And sense the darkened cotton-ball clouds rolling overhead.

If you will, take a moment…blot out the words…and just look at the photo. Drink it in. Does it make you feel serene? I hope it does: then you too will share a tiny bit of what it took me a long, oh so long, time to realise: Ireland is an extraordinary place. Slán.

Additional Notes, Related Articles & Credits:

* WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Serene

** Want to stay at an Irish farm? Check out this article from The Irish Independent newspaper!

 

 

Two jars of overnight oats topped with yogurt and blueberriesOvernight porridge {oatmeal} is a familiar thing in our Irish home. To make, I bring a pot of steel cut oats, covered in water, to the boil and then turn off the heat and leave overnight. In the morning, I add a little extra water to the oats, give them a quick stir and reheat. This recipe couldn’t be simpler to make.

But, as my children have gotten older, it has become harder to get them to eat breakfast before they head off to school. So, our beloved hot porridge oats have gone by the wayside and in their place I’ve started making a different kind of overnight porridge: the no-cook kind.

And, you know what? My kids love it. They can grab and go straight from the fridge at home, saving them pocket money, and they can eat their brekkie when they are hungry…not when I want them to eat. The morning argument of “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” is gone and I am thrilled.

A close up of a spoon of overnight oats with two jars filled with overnight oats in the background

This recipe is a win-win for everyone. Once you try it, I know you’re going to like it for your kids too. In fact, make an extra one for yourself…it’s just that good!

 

Overnight Oatmeal

Makes One

Ingredients

40g rolled oats, not steel cut or instant

75ml milk/almond milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon honey

1 teaspoon flax seed and/or chia seeds

a pinch of salt

2-3 tablespoons yogurt

fruit to top

Directions

1. Combine the oats, milk, vanilla, honey, salt and flax and/or chia seeds in a glass container and mix well.

2. Top with yogurt and fruit and put the lid on the container.

3. Refrigerate overnight.

Additional Notes, Related Articles & Credit:

* Overnight oats don’t need to be eaten the next morning: they’re good for about three days after you make them. Just know, however, that the porridge will get soggier the longer you leave it. And, if you are going to leave it a few days, don’t add the yogurt or fruit when you make this recipe…add just before you eat it.

** The beauty of this recipe is it can be changed up pretty much however you like. For example, you can add pumpkin seeds or any other kind of seed you like. You can add other stuff like chopped nuts, shredded coconut, cocoa nibs, or dried fruit. How about a pinch of cinnamon or cardamom or stir in some cocoa powder or matcha powder? You could change up the sweetener and add maple syrup, agave, date sugar, brown sugar, or even white sugar, A small squeeze of lemon juice would add a tang to your oats too. The options are endless.

*** For an easy-to-make, and delicious, recipe for traditional Irish steel cut porridge, please click here.

 

 

Wishes from In an Irish Home to You and Yours

I have so much to be thankful for today and every day: my sweet family {the inlaws and the outlaws!}, wonderful, supportive, friends, and you…the fabulous visitors who call-in to this blog every day!

From the bottom to the top of my Irish heart…THANK YOU!

Thank you for visiting In an Irish Home, for leaving your comments, and for sharing what you like with me and others.
Wishing you and those you love a blessed Thanksgiving Day!

 

 

A bowl of homemade sweet potato casserole, topped with granola and maple syrup

With more than twenty years worth of cooking under my apron, I’m always trying something new in the kitchen…but not when it comes to this sweet potato casserole. This incredibly “more-ish” recipe has been handed down three generations, from mother to daughter, and is perfect just the way it is.

What’s more? This recipe is easy to make, much simpler than Irish mashed potatoes, for example, and it freezes well. This really is the ultimate side dish for your holiday meal. Enjoy!

 

Sweet Potato Casserole

Serves 4

Ingredients

2 lbs sweet potatoes

60g/4 tablespoons butter

2oz/1/2 cup brown sugar

2 teaspoons cinnamon

2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream

Directions

1. Scrub the sweet potatoes well.

2. Place them in a large saucepan and add cold water until the potatoes are covered by 1-inch. Bring to the boil over high heat. Reduce to simmer and cook for 30 minutes or until a knife tip or skewer goes into the sweet potatoes easily.

2. Drain the sweet potatoes into a colander and peel immediately with a pairing knife while they are still hot {use a clean tea towel to protect your fingers, if necessary}.

3. While you are peeling the potatoes, put the butter into a saucepan and melt.

4. Place the peeled potatoes into a large bowl and mash. Next, add the brown sugar, cream, cinnamon and butter. Stir well. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired.

Additional Notes, Related Articles & Credit:

* To freeze, let the sweet potato cool completely, transfer to a freezer bag, remove any excess air, and store until needed.

** If you want to add a little crunch and saltiness to this dish, top it with my homemade granola {sans raisins}. And maybe add a little maple syrup too!

*** Curious to know the difference between a sweet potato and a yam? Here’s the answer from epicurious.com.

 

 

 

A large bowl of Irish mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving and Christmas

Today we’re making mashed potatoes in our Irish home. And not just any mash either. We’re making velvety, creamy, delicious mashed potatoes. The kind with just the right amount of butter and milk {or cream} and salt added in. The kind that makes you go back to the table for seconds, even when you’re full.

As well as being a seriously homey comfort food, this Master Recipe, forms the base of other well known Irish potato dishes like Colcannon and Champ. It can also be turned into tasty potato cakes with the addition of some grated cheese, herbs, and rashers {bacon}. When topped with smoked salmon or a poached egg, potato cakes make an ideal brunch or light supper.

This recipe freezes well too. Which means you can double batch it for Thanksgiving and reheat it for Christmas {which is exactly what we’re doing today}. To freeze, let the mashed potato cool completely, transfer to a freezer bag, and store until needed. Easy-peasy. If you prefer individual servings, you can scoop out tea-cup-portions of the cooled mashed potatoes onto a Silpat-lined baking sheet and place in the freezer overnight or until the potatoes are completely frozen. Then put the individual servings into a freezer bag and store in the freezer.

To re-heat frozen mashed potatoes, simple chose the method that works best for you: microwave, stove top, oven or slow cooker.

Velvety Irish Mashed Potatoes

Serves 4

Ingredients

1 kilogram/2lbs unpeeled potatoes, preferably Golden Wonders or Kerr’s Pinks in Ireland or Russet or Yukon Gold in America

250ml/8oz/1 cup milk and/or cream {or mix half-and-half}

112g/8 tablespoons butter

salt and pepper

Directions

1. Scrub the potatoes well.

2. Place them in a large saucepan and add cold water until the potatoes are covered by 1-inch. Add a big pinch of salt to the water and bring to the boil over high heat.

3. Boil for 15 minutes, reduce the heat to medium-low, pour off about half the water, add a lid to the saucepan, and let the potatoes steam for another 20-30 minutes or until a knife tip or skewer goes into the potatoes easily.

4. Drain the potatoes in a colander and peel immediately with a pairing knife while they are still hot {use a clean tea towel to protect your fingers, if necessary}.

5. While you are peeling the potatoes, put the milk and butter into a saucepan and bring to a gentle boil.

5. Place the peeled potatoes into a large bowl and mash by hand or use a potato ricer for quicker results.

6. Pour half the hot milk and butter into the potatoes and stir well. Add more milk and butter until you get the smooth potato consistency you prefer. {You may not need all that you have prepared or you might need a little more, depending on how dry the potatoes are}.

7. Season with salt and pepper. Taste. Correct the season as you like and serve.

Additional Notes, Related Articles & Credit:

* You may, of course, peel the potatoes before you boil them, but leaving the skins on during the boiling process gives the mashed potato an lovely flavour.

** Using a potato ricer or food mill will give your mashed potatoes a smoother, creamier, texture than mashing with a potato masher. Darina and Rachel Allen, of Ballymaloe, recommend placing them in an electric food mixer using the paddle attachment to mash them.

*** Never use a blender or food processor to whip your potatoes: you’ll be left with a gluey mess if you do.

**** If you have a composter, throw the peeled potato skins into it to help feed next year’s garden bounty.

 

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